As a social science discipline, this is not a “neutral” subject. While it may seem that “it either happened or it didn’t,” social scientists are always going to differ on their interpretation of historical events or historical “facts.” All social scientists are influenced by their background, experience, view of the world, and biases. There are different ways to tell the same story.
Debate, discussion, and differences of opinion are not only permitted; they are welcomed, encouraged, and are regarded as an important part of the learning process. The right of free speech and expression is not only protected; it is strongly encouraged. Students should never be graded on the basis of their opinion or ideology but rather on performance in class and knowledge of the subject matter as indicated on exams and other measures.
The only rule is that class members conduct themselves as mature and professional members of an academic community, giving due respect to the personhood, ideas, and opinions of others.
We will adhere to the inquiry model of instruction, which is current practice and crucial to healthy discussion. You can learn more about this at www.ncss.org.
Professor Kelsie Brook Eckert is the coordinator for SSE at PSU.